In early January, the body overseeing zoning for North Whitehall Township denied the author permission to establish a heliport. View article on wfmz.com.
By Michael Selig, MD, FACC, CFI-H - The issue in this case, is that the zoning ordinance lists private airports as a reasonable and permitted commercial use by special exception in the AR zoning district. An airport is inclusive of heliports or helicopter use by definition of the Ordinance and the State Bureau of Aviation. The ordinance that allows airports was determined and written into law with extensive deliberation by legislation. The ordinance already considered the potential impact on the community by limiting the number of flights is just 15/week. There are 2 private heliports in North Whitehall.
If people object so strongly to airports, then they needed to undergo the proper procedure to remove it from the ordinances, so individuals such as myself do not waste their time and money to pursue what is a listed and permitted use. If people are so opposed to having airports/heliports in their area, they needed to review the ordinances ahead of buying their property and find a dwelling elsewhere. This goes to Usufruct, the right under the constitution to enjoy ones property according to listed uses.
The land mass, surrounded by farmland and elevation of this property provides a large natural buffer. It was selected for just that reason. The helicopter is only a single engine, 2 bladed helicopter, about half the size of the medivac helicopters (twin engine, 4 bladed) the Townspeople kept relating to and nearly half the noise level; to that of a lawn mower.
This hearing became a venting session and character assassination vs dealing with the matters of law. North Whitehall residents have limited knowledge pertaining to these legal matters and to helicopters, so it became an emotional issue for them. Many local people were rallied up by a low income mobile home park owner, who lives in another Township and financially benefits from her property. She was worried about her mobile park income, when her mobile home park has greater negative effects on property values. Private airports and heliports increase property values. Look at how many of them are in Somerset, NJ where some of the most beautiful estates in the country are located.
The principle purpose for purchasing this property was for the Airport. Before the purchase of the property I spoke with the zoning officer, we reviewed the ordinances who stated he did not see a reason for not allowing it and wrote a letter stating this.
I have served this community for the last 25 years as a solo, private practice cardiologist, did cardiac catheterization for 15 years and genuinely have concern about our community. Obamacare has closed down most all private practice in our area and has negatively impacted my private practice. Seeing this trend, I have been transitioning into the helicopter business I started with a friend in year 2000.
Not only do the residents of North Whitehall live in microcosms of indifference towards organ donation, shortages, and disease processes that necessitate the need for transplantation; it is apparent that they are prepared to preserve their "quality of life" without regard to others. These same people spent several sessions proclaiming their concern only for themselves yet were unconcerned about the 12 years of prior EPA violations on the 309 property, a litany of violations that contaminated their streams and wildlife. Not one of those people protested or requested remediation of that destruction, not the nurse, the mobile home park owner, or the agricultural land barrens. Lost in the shuffle was the primary reason for the airport, to provide low cost transport of donor organs and advocacy services so I can continue to promote and preserve life. This requires at times, rapid access to the aircraft and rapid departure. Living on the property and avoiding the tower control of ABE allows that.
The matter is not yet closed, I believe my rights were violated; therefore I will pursue a request for reconsideration or appropriate appeals. I suspect the Common Pleas will not grant me relief, but perhaps at the Commonwealth or Supreme Courts where the matter can be looked at purely as a matter of right and a matter of breach of law, to see if the written law has been properly applied.